Monday, November 2, 2015

Halloween in Korea?

This week has been fantastic! We got two new investigators. One of them is from Spain and will only be here for another two weeks, so we are just hoping to get him to read the Book of Mormon and meet with missionaries back home.

The other is probably our most interested investigator. We found him going through our area book and noticing that there was no reason that he was dropped, so we called him up and he was excited to meet again. He really likes us and what we teach, and he seemed very desirous to take and read a Book of Mormon. On major challenge we will have with him, however, is that he will not associate religion with Korea or Koreans (keep in mind that he himself is a Korean). He had bad experiences in the past that have caused him to not want to associate religion with Korea in any way, even refusing to take a Korean Book of Mormon and taking an English one instead. This will be a difficult challenge for us to help him overcome, but am praying a lot for Him, because I know if there is anything that can change his heart and bring about a spirit of forgiveness, it is the Atonement of Christ. 

We had a great Halloween two days ago! We all decided to dress up as missionaries and go to the office for a devotional with P.J. Rogers. I doubt anyone will recognize the name, but in Korea he is a legit, huge celebrity. He is a return missionary who went back to Korea for school, graduated from a top Korean university (an EXTREMELY hard thing to do, and he did it all in Korean!), was a business man for a while, had a television show, and is now a professor at BYU Hawaii. When we were told he would be speaking, Elder Moore, who had been to one of his devotionals before, started acting a bit like a kid on Christmas morning (in a good way, of course). I can understand why now. He is an incredible speaker. He taught all about Korean culture, language learning, and something called Jeung. Jeung is sort of the hierarchy or order of respect in Korea. Jeung is the connection between people, and it can be student to teacher, junior to elder, child to parent, or anything else. He talked all about the importance of showing the proper form of respect, like bowing, shaking with two hands, and standing up when an adult walks in the room. He also talked a lot about the importance of developing proper Jeung with members. I can't possibly explain this the way he did, or with all the stories and examples he shared, but I felt very inspired afterward. I definitely act differently now to try to appear as proper as I can. It can be difficult when something that may be rude or odd in Korea would be totally normal in the U.S. For example, he set up a fake role-play situation and suddenly asked a Korean in the audience if he would refer the a friend to the missionaries in a situation like this. The answer was something along the lines of, "No." As U.S. members, we tend to refer people to missionaries even if we don't know the missionary's name. In Korea, that would never happen. Missionaries must develop Jeung with members for the members to be willing to refer people to them. 

After the meeting, I realized just how little I actually understood the importance of understanding the culture and the way Koreans think. I can't explain everything that was talked about, because P.J. Rogers talked for more than three hours, but it was such an awesome experience. I've committed to put more effort into learning and understanding the Korean culture and language, because it is so different, but also very cool. I had a very cool experience the next day that I wrote in my journal:

"Today I felt a lot of powerful impressions from the Spirit. I've been praying for an increase of love, especially for the members, because of the inspiring P.J. Rogers devotional yesterday. I certainly felt a lot different today than I have before. Despite language differences and my inability to understand them often, I felt a strong desire to connect with them and more willingly embrace their culture. I bore my testimony in Sacrament meeting and really wanted them to feel the missionary's care for them. A few members actually approached me today about a few different things (language help, getting to know me, talking about ward choir/singing). If this isn't a miraculous, character-changing answer to my prayers, I don't know what would be." 

Thanks for all your messages and encouragement! I hope everyone is doing great!

By the way, go Elder Jones! Glad to see you are doing awesome work just a little way away.
Tyler's Birthday Heart Attack Package from home.

Home away from home--Apartment in Seoul.

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